Our Ten’s List: Most Anticipated Films of 2019, Pt. 1.
A new year means ten new films to get excited about as we look at the first half of 2019.
2018 was the biggest box office year to date, and fielded a record number of films. With hits landing all year long, Hollywood has become confidant that big films can succeed in what were normally quiet months. In previous years, I had to scramble to pick ten first-half films to fill the list up. This year, I had so many that I added two bonus picks to make an even dozen. From cerebral sci-fi by a celebrated auteur to crazy monster fights featuring a giant green lizard, our list of most anticipated films runs the gamut. If 2019 is anything like last year, there will be plenty of fun to be had at the theater.
Most Anticipated Films of 2019.
10. Replicas (1/11)
A neuroscientist (Keanu Reeves, duh) working on recreating the human brain, turns his research to darker purposes when his family is killed in a tragic accident.
Director Jeffrey Nachmanoff is mostly known for his TV contributions such as Homeland and Hostages, but also directed the underappreciated thriller Traitor starring Don Cheadle. Keanu is having a renaissance as of late, with big hits like John Wick and interesting indie roles such as The Bad Batch and The Neon Demon. I like some sci-fi noir to get my year started, and I never miss a chance to put Keanu on my anticipated movies list, so win-win.
9. Glass (1/18)
David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the nearly invulnerable hero of Unbreakable, is hunting Kevin Wendel Crumb (James McAvoy) the escaped killer with multiple personalities. Behind the scenes, Dunn’s nemesis, Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) manipulates both men to suit his own sinister agenda.
M. Night Shyamalan has done intriguing work in the super-hero genre with his psychologically driven hits Unbreakable and Split. Pairing them together has the potential to really open up the genre further. Split was a surprise treat, and he has a stellar cast at his disposal for this outing. My only qualm is that the trailer seems to show too much, but Shyamalan does enjoy subverting expectations…
8. Alita: Battle Angel (2/14)
A cyborg girl with amnesia awakens in a dystopian world where life, mechanical and organic, is cheap. Her only clue to her past is an ancient martial arts she instinctively remembers. Using her abilities to fight the injustice around her, she slowly begins to discover who she is.
Just give me this movie already! The decades-long wait where James Cameron sat on this script aside, I’m glad Robert Rodriguez and company sent this one back to the shop for another layer of polish. The new visuals look much better, and hopefully the film will see better results premiering in the much less crowded markets of February. I’m still excited for this adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s ground-breaking manga, I guess I’ll just have to wait two more months.
7. Greta (3/1)
A conscientious young woman (Chloe Grace Moretz) discovers a lost handbag on the subway and returns it to its owner, Greta (Isabelle Huppert). The older woman befriends her, and they both grow closer. A chance discovery alerts the young woman that Greta may not be who she seems, and may have engineered their meeting in the first place.
This is a fantastic cast and a solid premise, all from a great director. Neil Jordan may be best known for his older hits such as The Crying Game, Michael Collins, and Interview with the Vampire, but he’s been coming back to the craft lately. As nearly every movie he’s been behind has been fearless and unique, I’m confident that Greta will make good on its promising trailer.
6. Us. (3/15)
Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) is haunted by a mysterious tragedy and terrified for her family’s safety, so her husband (Winston Duke) takes her and their children to the idyllic beach house where she was raised. Once there, strangers menace the family, and Adelaide becomes convinced that her premonitions are coming true.
Jordan Peele follows up his horror hit, Get Out, with another socially driven tale of terror. The film sports a deep and interesting cast. I’m delighted to see Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke team up, and I’m intrigued at seeing comedian Tim Heidecker in a horror/drama. As with Get Out, the horror elements seem tried and true in Us, but Peele keeps them fresh with incisive cultural criticism.
5. High Life (4/12)
Monte (Robert Pattinson), a death-row criminal, is forced to undertake a deep space mission to search for an energy source for the ravaged Earth. The only other member of the crew to survive the long trek is Monte’s daughter, the result of artificial insemination done against his will. Alone, the two grapple with survival and forging a bond despite his regret and anger.
French film director Clair Denis has been critically lauded since her break out film, Beau Travail, in 1999, and took awards at Cannes last year for Let the Sunshine In. Her approach has been very character driven, with a keen eye towards how social inequality shapes the lives of both the victims and perpetrators. This film seems like a departure in terms of genre, but Denis has shown herself a capable hand at many genres in the past. High Life is set to be a hard sci-fi film with a gripping personal element. I trust Robert Pattinson to pull the lead role off, as his turns in Good Time and The Rover were eye-opening.
4. Avengers: Endgame (4/26)
Beaten, scattered to the reaches of the Universe, and mourning the loss of half their team, the Avengers gather for a desperate attempt to defeat Thanos and use his Infinity Gauntlet to undo the horrors the Mad Titan committed.
Yeah…do you really need me to add anything to the description of this film? It’s the culmination of a decade of world-building and perhaps the swan-song for many of the beloved actors playing characters like Iron Man and Captain America. You’re going to go see it.
3. Detective Pikachu (5/10)
A young man who failed to become a Pokemon trainer (Justice Smith) teams up with Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) who is investigating a series of disappearances. Together, the stumble upon a series of crimes that could threaten Ryme City and the Pokemon universe.
What can I say, I needed to pick a kids movie for variety. This seems like the best of the bunch, with Reynolds snarking away as the usually un-verbose Pokemon mascot. Seriously, the little yellow puffball can only say his own damn name in the cartoons. Anyway, this film seems like it is going to serve up the visuals and menagerie that Poke-fans will crave while making as many self-aware jokes about the franchise as it can. Think of it like The Great Muppet Caper for the card collecting set.
2. John Wick 3: Parabellum. (5/17)
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is now on the run from the cabal of assassin’s who once counted him as one of their own. As he fights to escape from New York (hey…that would make a good movie title…) he has to call in favors from shadowy figures from his past.
I like where this series is headed. We have the toughest challenge yet for our expert killer in the present, while also delving into his past. The second entry in the series helped to flesh out the world and fill it with interesting characters. This third installment looks to do the same for John Wick as a character – “solemn guy who loves dogs and head-shots” could use some depth. Adding Angelica Huston and Halle Berry to the roster of talent is icing on the cake. As much as they keep adding to this series, it makes you wonder if a John Wick 4 is in the cards. As tidy as a trilogy would be, it’d hard to say goodbye to John after the series has done so much to make his world fascinating.
1. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (5/31)
I don’t really care at this point about the story. “A crypto-zoological secret society awakens ancient monster”…blah blah blah. The last American Godzilla film looked amazing but kept denying us all of the monster-mash goodness. With three new monsters, including series icons like Mothra and King Ghidorah, they would have to be actively trolling us if they don’t pack the movie with monster fights. Take your own advice, Warner Brothers, “Let them fight!”
The Wedding Guest (3/1)
A man with a shadowy past (Dev Patel) heads to a wedding in Pakistan…armed with a shotgun and duct tape. His mission to abduct the bride (Radhika Apte) goes sideways quickly, and the two end up having to work together in order to survive a web of shifting alliances and deadly secrets.
Dev Patel has been an awards show darling in uplifting films, so its nice to see him play a compromised character in a dark and violent film. The reason this film is intriguing is the same reason it’s on the Bonus list…there’s just not enough information or material to go on at this point. The few early reviews out for it are evenly divided, and can’t agree on most aspects from acting to story. Here’s hoping a trailer pops out soon as IFC has acquired the rights to screen this film.
The Wind (4/5)
Another tantalizing film from IFC that we can only glimpse the outlines of. Director Emma Tammi has made a name for herself with some excellent documentaries, but this is her first dramatic film. The cast is also relatively fresh, featuring Caitlin Gerrard (Insidious: The Last Key) and Julia Goldani Telles (Most Likely to Murder, Slender Man). I’m a sucker for horror flicks set on the American frontier, so sign me up when this lands in April.